Black Is Beautiful is a series of interviews with interesting, intelligent and immersed-in-their-passion local African American women.
Black Is Beautiful is a new series of interviews with interesting, intelligent and immersed-in-their-passion local African American women. To read more of the series go here.
In 2020, Chytania Brown became the first African American female to be appointed President and CEO of Employ Milwaukee, Inc. Collectively, she has worked for more than 20 years in criminal justice, workforce development, community development, policy and advocacy.
Employ Milwaukee is the local workforce development board serving Milwaukee County. It's vision is to develop workforce solutions for both businesses and workers that promote regional economic growth and employment opportunity.
Brown is passionate about her work and recently spent time with OnMilwaukee sharing her perspective.
OnMilwaukee: You have lived in Milwaukee for most of your life, right?
Chytania Brown: Yes, I was born in Milwaukee and graduated from what is now Bradley Tech. I went to the University of Mississippi for my undergraduate degree, and then came back to Milwaukee to attend UWM and get a masters in educational psychology. I am currently pursuing a doctorate in the advancedment of leadership through learning and service at Cardinal Stritch.
As the President and CEO of Employ Milwaukee, what exactly do you do?
My primary function is monitoring workplace initiatives. Basically, we work with people looking for work and businesses in need of employees. Our job is understand the demand and then support and build that talent to meet the needs of employers.
Has your work increased sinced the pandemic started?
Yes, it's been particularly busy since the pandemic. Lots of people are changing careers and lots of employers need employees. We're learning to understand the new world of employment; how can we evolve, because it's definitely not the same.
How is this work fulfilling for you?
I've been a service-oriented person ever since I was a kid. I always knew that whatever I did, it would be working with people to help them become their best selves. Before this job, I had no idea what workforce development even was, but the more I learned about it, the more I realized I found my niche. I've been in this space over two decades now and absolutely love solving employers' and employees' needs. I get to work with all types of people, from young people trying to figure it out to people who are switching careers or have been laid off in midlife.
How does your work move Milwaukee forward?
Employment is the solution to all of our issues. Everyone should be able to afford to eat and pay rent and get healthcare by working a job with livable wages. We cannot solve other problems without employment; it's at the core of our city's health and prosperity.
How else are you involved in your community?
I serve on numerous boards including the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee, Menomonee Valley Partners, I Have A Dream Milwaukee and more. I want to be part of so many conversations in Milwaukee. I do the best I can.
Have you ever thought about moving from Milwaukee?
Yes, but there's something in the air that keeps me here. When I graduated from Ole Miss I planned to move to Texas with some of my sorority sisters, but my mom became ill and I came back here to take care of her. Once I was here, I got stuck, and I mean that in a good way. I would not be the person I am today if I didn’t come back to Milwaukee. I love my city. There is so much in Milwaukee that gets overshadowed by negativity and I want to be part of the positive any way I can.
I did say that someday I'd like to work in Washington, D.C., though, so we'll see. But I own a home in the city of Milwaukee now and I'm probably here to stay.
What is one thing you love about Milwaukee?
There is a lot to do here because Milwaukee is rich in culture and arts. You just have to get out and enjoy it.
What is one thing you would like to see change in Milwaukee?
I believe in community. When I took over as president and CEO of this organization, I came through the door saying we will not function as an island and that we have to work cohesively with many other organizations.
We are resource rich in Milwaukee, but very disjointed in the work that we do. We need to become One Milwaukee for a longtime solution.
Our mayor can't do it alone; our alders can't do it alone. We need to take a collective stance as a community. We have to say we’re tired of the way things are and then step arm-to-arm to make it happen.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.